NOTHING BUT MILK UNTIL 6 MONTHS - WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO WAIT, THE VIRGIN GUT

A question everyone will be asking you, quite often I might add, is "Is she on solids yet?" They usually start asking around 3 months and are then very surprised if you say "No, we are waiting for 6 months".

Introducing solids before 6 months of age can do irreparable damage to your baby's gut, as babies are born with a virgin / open gut, where the cells in the lining of the intestines are spaced out and not closed up.

They are quick to tell you that you need to start solids because;

  • your milk isn't enough to sustain your baby (Your milk is ALWAYS enough to sustain your baby, as your body tailor makes it to her needs and in the needed quantity),
  • your baby is big or small and needs solids,
  • your baby has reached "x" amount of weight (Doctors are fond of this one, for our GP the magic nr was 14kg)
  • your baby needs the extra iron because your breastmilk doesn't have enough (breastmilk does have less iron than formula, but the iron in breastmilk is easier absorbed and thus absorbed in larger quantities),
  • your baby will sleep better,
  • look how interested she is in the food, she wants some (Well yes, she also shows interest in knives, fire, my hairspray, the cat, that rusty nail ...ooh look a spec of dust)
  • they started their babies at 3 months,
  • they added porridge to the bottles and their babies slept better,
  • they were fed steak at 3 weeks old and are "fine",

...However, none of these are true or valid reasons for starting solids before 6 months.

The correct age to start solids is after 6 months of age, as prescribed by The World Health Organisation, UNICEF, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Family Physicians,Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Health Canada etc.

6 Months is also not the precise date that you must now immediately start. It is simply the earliest you MAY start IF your baby displays all the readiness signs. Your baby will be developmentally and physiologically ready for solids BETWEEN 6 and 8 months of age and will then display the following readiness signs;

  • Your baby is above 6 months of age.
  • Can sit well unsupported for some time, not just seconds.
  • Is ready and willing to chew.
  • Has developed the pincer grasp (can pick up items between the thumb and forefinger).
  • Has lost the tongue-thrust reflex (does not push food out with tongue but moves it to the back of the mouth).
  • Has lost the tongue-thrust reflex (does not push food out with tongue but moves it to the back of the mouth).
  • Shows an interest in food and a willingness to participate.

Introducing solids before 6 months of age can do irreparable damage to your baby's gut, as babies are born with a virgin / open gut, where the cells in the lining of the intestines are spaced out and not closed up. This is so that the milk can easily be absorbed directly into the baby's bloodstream, but this also means that intact macromonecules of food can pass directly into the bloodstream and also damage the cells.

This can lead to a wide variety of issues that may only be visible later in life e.g. increased risk of allergies, type 1 diabetes, irritable bowl syndrome, constipation, difficulty digesting food, malabsorption of nutrients, Celiac disease, increased risk of SIDS, obesity, gas, respiratory tract infections, ear infections, and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Your baby's gut will only mature and the gut close between 4 to 6 months of age, but as no one can know how the lining of their child's gut looks on any given day, you need to wait until 6 months when you know it is safe.

You may also have heard the ever popular remark that "a study" found that the early introduction of solids will reduce the risk of allergies. This "Study" refers to the LEAP study that was conducted, where it was found that peanuts, not "solids", that were introduced to children before 12 months of age, rather that being introduced to the children after 5 years of age, resulted in less peanut allergies. The study never said to introduce solids before 4 months.

When your baby is ready to start solids, I would encourage you to look into Baby Led Weaning as an option. You may find it a better option opposed to Traditional Puree based Weaning.

I know the pressure can be tough to withstand when it comes to the opinions of those around you, but as a parent it is your responsibility to do what you believe is best for your baby.

If all else fails, just smile and nod while receiving "guidance" and "advice".

Additional Information:

http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/delay-solids/
http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/solids-when/
http://www.llli.org/faq/solids.html
http://www.thealphaparent.com/2011/07/virgin-gut-note-for-parents.html